Letter writers dropped from Congress' A-teams formed for UP polls
Congress, eyeing a resurrection in politics, on Sunday evening announced seven committees for Uttar Pradesh polls, which are still two years away. Unsurprisingly, it handed over a major snub to notable leaders like Jitin Prasada and Raj Babbar, who had signed the letter to party President Sonia Gandhi demanding the party's re-haul. Veteran leader Salman Khurshid, however, got a top post. Here's what happened.
Besides former Union Minister Prasada and ex-Congress UP Chief Babbar, AICC Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh was also excluded from the committees. Meanwhile, members like Nirmal Khatri and Naseeb Pathan, who had berated the letter writers, were given a place in the committees. Khurshid, a Gandhi family loyalist, was made the head of the committee that will draw the party manifesto for 2022 Assembly polls.
The Outreach Committee includes Pramod Tiwari, Pradip Jain, Gajraj Singh, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Imran Masood, and Bal Kumar Patel, PTI reported. Anugrah Narayan Singh, Ajay Kapoor, BL Khabri, Mohd Muqeem, former parliamentarian Kamal Kishore and Ajay Rai are members of the Membership Committee. The Media Committee has Rashid Alvi, Lalitesh Pat Tripathi, Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Surendra Rajput, Omkar Singh, and Virendra Madan, as its members.
In fact, in January this year, nearly 48 organizations had attended a meeting in Kanpur and provided inputs for the manifesto, reports IE. Notably, Khurshid's team consists of PL Punia, Aradhana Misra, Vivek Bansal, Supriya Srinate, and Amitabh Dubey. Separately, the other six panels concern themselves with outreach, membership, program implementation, training and cadre development, panchayat polls, and media and communication.
As far as UP elections are concerned, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who became the General Secretary of Congress for UP (East) before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, wants the party to go all guns blazing. Hence, the preparations for the 2022 Assembly polls have already begun. When Priyanka was given the top job, Jyotiraditya Scindia became her counterpart for UP West but he joined BJP in March.
Winning UP is arguably an uphill task for the grand old party. In 2017, despite forging an alliance with Samajwadi Party, Congress had won merely seven Assembly seats. In 2019, Congress won just one Lok Sabha seat — Sonia retained her Raebareli seat. In a humiliating setback for ex-President Rahul Gandhi, he lost the Gandhi bastion Amethi to BJP's Smriti Irani.
While Congress is eager to send out a message about its "seriousness," it's unhappy with dissenters, whose letter to Sonia sparked a crisis last month. Nearly two dozen Congressmen, including Shashi Tharoor, Kapil Sibal, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, implored the top brass to think about an active leadership. However, after much flutter, Congress ended up letting Sonia remain the chief for another six months.
Strikingly, Congress announced the names of panels and its members on the same day when nine expelled members wrote to Sonia urging her to "rise above the affinity for the family," and run the party in a democratic fashion. To recall, the Gandhi siblings had taken offense at the letter and had slammed the signatories at the CWC meeting last month.